WSU in Week 3: Cougs will try to make it 19-0

THE COUGS HOST Portland State in Week 3 for their home opener and Las Vegas probably won't even set a line. But based on what happened last year this much seems clear: the Vikings will not come into Pullman and play scared. And that's because …

... Portland State brings back a lot of players and last season they outplayed, and should have beaten, another Pac-12 school -- California.

Every fan base dismisses the possibility an FCS team can pull off the upset.. until it happens. Oregon State fans didn't think there was any way Sac State could beat them in 2011. No Beaver fan thought Eastern Washington would upset OSU last year, making it two of three years OSU fans had to wrap their heads around FCS losses.

Sure, the most likely outcome for the Cougs in Week 3 is that they steamroll Portland State on offense, defense, special teams and in every other way imaginable. Indeed, the game should be pretty much over by sometime early in the second half.

Washington State is 18-0 all-time against FCS opponents.

Then again, the gap has narrowed between FCS and FBS teams over the last 10 years. And PSU was just six points from 9-3 last season. They finished 6-6 but lost three games by one, one and four points.

Only 15 seniors depart from last year's Portland State squad – but those 15 represent a large portion of the Vikings' top talent.

Running back D.J. Adams (1,600 rushing yards), all-conference OL Mitchell Van Dyk, record-setting quarterback Collin Ramirez, ball-hawking safety David Edgerson and all-conference punter Kyle Loomis have all graduated.

Still, PSU will return eight starters on offense and five on defense.

Portland State runs a pistol/spread offense, similar to many other Big Sky teams. But they were very thin on the offensive line this spring, and that affected how they could practice.

Portland State will especially miss Adams this season, that seems fairly certain. And they'll also have a new quarterback.

The defense, however, might be pretty decent if the spring game was any indication -- despite only four returning starters on defense. PSU does have 21 defensive lettermen returning, including eight who have started at least one game.

Portland State's defense has been only so-so for several of the past years, the offense has been the best unit. That might change in 2014.

Head coach Nigel Burton looks to be on the hot seat and has said this spring he knows a 6-6 campaign isn't acceptable in 2014. An upset over an FBS team would go a long ways towards bringing the PSU fans back to his corner. PSU will have two shots at it, opening the season against OSU before playing the Cougs two weeks later.

Will Portland State be able to put some lessons to use after the OSU game? Or will the Vikings be a little beaten up coming into Pullman?

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • FCS teams notched 11 victories over FBS teams last season, with a record eight occurring in the first week.

  • Some of the FBS teams that have been upset by FCS teams since 2007 include: Michigan, Virginia Tech, Oregon State (twice), Kansas State, Colorado, Ole Miss and Pitt.

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